Pet Therapy with Veterans

So many times when we go into the senior living facilities, there are many of our veterans as residents and/or visitors. Of course, so many of them had to leave not just their human family members behind when they went off to serve in our military, but their pets also.

At one recent visit, Mya and I met the husband of one of the residents that is there visiting his wife every day. I’ve noticed how much he seems lonely and can use a little extra attention when we make our visit there. This month I decided that we would take extra time with him and his wife. In the past he’s talked about classic show cars, but this time he started educating me on his military service. He talked about setting up 30 foot towers for radio communication. They would construct one section, climb to the top of it and add the next section. They would have to find higher hills without obstructions between for the radio waves to reach from tower to tower. Mya lay down at his feet like she was listening along.

The other night Bo and I (yes, Bo won’t give up the one room visits yet) went to one of the facilities we’ve been going to for several years. It’s nice since it’s a one room visit where the residents come down to a nice auditorium to spend time with the dogs. They always have chairs set up in a circle for the residents to sit and there’s usually enough for the handlers to sit next to them. This is an easier type of visit for Bo since she can sit next to one person for awhile getting petted and soaking up all the attention. It’s also nice since the dogs that know some tricks can go in the middle of the room and perform for some added entertainment.

After rotating around the room with the other dogs for awhile, Bo and I sat down next to a gentleman that started telling us that he had been in the Navy during the Vietnam war. He told of how he had the opportunities during his deployment to see several different countries as he was able to get off the ship at ports and go visit some of his relatives. Not only some in the western United States, but also in Europe. Then he would meet his ship at another port and head out to sea again. His European relatives would write back to his family in the States and tell them all about the visit they had. You could see how proud he was to have served his country and enjoyed reminiscing while telling us his story. It’s fun to have something else to visit about other than telling residents over and over Bo’s name, how old she is and what breed she is.

Luckily this gentleman did not have to see any combat and did not get any war injuries. He reminded me a little of my father as he looked a little like my dad with the hair around the sides, bald on top and glasses. Although he didn’t look over his glasses at me like my dad sometimes would, it was a very enjoyable visit. My dad had also been in the Navy and did not have to see combat. My dad was a Motor Machinist Mate (a mechanic) in WWII, so he worked on the different Jeeps, trucks, etc. that broke down. His love of working on engines started when he was really young, so he had plenty of experience before he went into the Navy.

These gentlemen were lucky that they never had to fight hand to hand combat either, but they still had very important jobs helping the troops and serving their country. We thank them for their sacrifice and are glad they were able to return home safe to their human AND canine family members and be able to share their stories with us.

My dad passed away back in 1998. I still miss him and his stories. It’s nice to visit these veterans and have them share theirs.

Bo and I look forward to going back and visiting with our veteran friends again each month.

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